***Editor’s Note: The “I Became an Engineer” blog runs every Friday. To share your story email email@example.com***
This week’s story comes from ECN reader Jeannette F. Wilson, product marketing manager, Computing Products Group, Microchip Technology Inc.
An engineering career was not what I always envisioned for myself, but I’m so glad I pursued it.
At six or seven years old, I wanted to be a librarian. I could easily have spent the entire day reading books. But when I reached high school, I had a hard time deciding where I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to study. I thought about becoming a lawyer, even though it would require more years of schooling beyond an undergraduate degree. Both of my parents were in technical professions, and my Dad, who was an electrical engineer, suggested that I might want to consider becoming a patent attorney since he assumed I wouldn’t be interested in criminal law. I agreed. “Well then you should start with an EE degree,” he said.
It made sense since I’d always been interested in how things work and enjoyed taking apart mechanical clocks (even if I wasn’t as good at putting them back together again). I took several honors STEM classes in high school and was good in math and science. I even participated in a STEM program at Sandia National Labs in New Mexico that I enjoyed. It all came naturally, even if I’d never considered a technical career to be a “calling.” And since my parents were both from this environment, I just assumed everyone was technical and I’d find many kindred spirits out in the world.
After entering college, I was somewhat surprised at the lack of women in my classes, and that not all of the coursework came easily. In fact, I had to take Calculus 2 three times before I passed the course. I was never able to understand one of my professors. He applied Calculus 2 to his motorcycle carburetor, and I didn’t understand either. I learned an important lesson at that point: If things don’t work out immediately, it may just be how you’re hearing the information, so keep trying and don’t get discouraged. During my college years I took a job at Radio Shack, which was fun, and then became a technician at Rockwell Collins where I loved the hands-on aspects of engineering, including building safety systems for radars and implementing a variety of testing programs.
When I graduated from college, I decided to accept one of several job offers in engineering rather than immediately embark on four years of law school. I hadn’t yet shut the door on becoming a patent attorney, but decided I wanted to see what an engineering career had to offer. I also knew that, if I did return to patent law, it would help to understand more of the underlying technology. In the meantime, I enjoyed a wonderful rotation program at Intel that exposed me to many types of jobs before I moved into the fab to learn more about semiconductor process technology. After that, I joined the applications team where I worked on technical documentation and development boards that helped solve customer problems, and then went into technical and then product marketing.
The more people-facing each job got, the more I liked it and the more I wanted to learn about it. I embarked on an MBA program to better understand the basics and mechanics of the marketing function. I became an apps engineer and then moved into product marketing and then customer marketing before being pulled into a software-focused marketing ecosystem development role. From there I returned to a semiconductor marketing role in a variety of positions and market segments. Having a technical background really helps me have intelligent conversations with customers and with internal engineering teams. Most recently, I have been focused on cybersecurity at Microchip Technology—the latest of the many learning opportunities in my career.
Read other stories, here:
- A Note From The Editor: An Engineer’s Story
- I Became An Engineer: Despite Being Bad At Math
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of A Watch
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of A 1930s Vintage Radio
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Kept Asking “Why?”
- I Became An Engineer: By Studying The Fundamentals
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of Microscope Modifications
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Drew A Flower
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of A Paperback Book On Electricity
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Wanted To Travel
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Tinkered With A Radio
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of Math, Science, And Serendipity
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Loved Discovery And Fixing Things
- I Became an Engineer: Because It Was Hot That Day
- I Became an Engineer: Because of Viktor Frankl and Existentialism
- I Became an Engineer: By Turning Curiosity into a Career
- I Became an Engineer: Because of the Air Force Technical Applications Center
- I Became an Engineer: Because I Went to Work with My Dad
- I Became an Engineer: Because I Always Knew I Would Be One
- I Became an Engineer: Because I Was Always Trying to Fix Things
- I Became an Engineer: Because My Teacher Scared Me into It
- I Became an Engineer: Because I Had a Knack for Programming